Polityka

Movie review by
Danny Brogan, Common Sense Media
Polityka Movie Poster Image
Polish drama hits out at politics; language, sex, and drugs.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 134 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Criticizes the political class, "democracy," the Church. Its overall message is that power corrupts and those with it will do anything to maintain it. There's an attempt to turn a sexual assault into an anti-Islam political campaign. Much infidelity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most characters are reprehensible hypocrites who lie, cheat, bribe their way up the political ladder. Both the Church and the right-wing Polish government are depicted as being corrupt. The left-wing opposition party is also portrayed in a poor light, although not as badly as those in power. Women are used as pawns in political plots and for sexual gratification. Religious and ethnic groups are referred to negatively.

Violence

Two instances of rape off-screen, but victim and aftermath are depicted. Machine guns and tanks are fired at nonhuman targets. A character uses a drill in a threatening manner. Clashes between neo-Nazis and Communists involve punching, kicking, hitting with sticks. A car crash leaves a character bruised, shaken up. Another character receives electroshock treatment, which results in them convulsing.

Sex

Many sex scenes, including full intercourse and oral sex. Brief nudity: A breast is seen side-on, a character pulls their trousers down to reveal naked buttocks. Characters are seen in their underwear, including some racy photos on a mobile phone. Much of the sex takes place in an adulterous relationship, with details of the affair retold between friends. Two instances where it is suggested that an older character has homosexual feelings for a much younger character.

Language

Strong language throughout, including variants of "f--k," and "s--t." Also use of "c--t," "bitch," "damn," "d--k," "t-ts," "piss," "pr--k," and "whore." "Jesus," "Christ," and "God" used as exclamations. "F-ggots" used as homophobic slur. Some racist dialogue.

Consumerism

A character goes on a huge spending spree -- having obtained money through bribes -- and spends some time debating what Chanel handbag to buy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol and drugs are consumed throughout. After drinking shots of vodka, a character acts erratically and suffers from a hangover the next day. Cocaine is regularly taken, including being snorted off someone's bare stomach. A joint is smoked. One character is seen smoking a cigarette; another, a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Polityka is a Polish political movie -- with English subtitles -- that attacks the political system, the Church, and those in power. There is strong language throughout -- including several uses of "c--t" and "f--k," regular sex scenes, and drink and drugs. Due to the critical tone, none of the main characters can be admired or considered role models. They cheat, bribe, and use dirty tactics to either keep or attain power. Though the sex scenes feature little nudity, they are graphic in nature. In one scene, a character receives oral sex while he's on the phone with his girlfriend. There are also two instances of rape. Both occur off-screen, but the lead-up and aftermath are shown, and the victim is subsequently treated as a political pawn with no regard for her well-being. One character is a regular user of cocaine and in one scene is shown snorting the drug off the stomach of a woman who is just in her underwear. Muslims, homosexuals, and Black people are all spoken about in derogatory terms. The movie caused some controversy in Poland due to its plot resembling real-life events and the fact that it was released shortly before the country's election.

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What's the story?

POLITYKA takes a "fictitious" look at the political scene in Poland, highlighting the cheating, bribery, and dirty tactics in both the professional and personal lives of those involved in the government and Church. Will anyone try to put a stop to the ongoing corruption?

Is it any good?

Polish director Patryk Vega's movie takes more potshots at the political system than a local pool tournament. Whether it's politicians stabbing each other in the back -- metaphorically --  or the Church dictating proceedings from the shadows, no one comes out unscathed. The movie has been criticized for it's political bias; supporters of the country's current governing party, PiS, in particular have been very vocal. While it's true that the "fictionalized" version of the government certainly resembles PiS and that they are very much at the heart of Vega's wrath, Polityka appears to be taking aim at the system as a whole. The overriding message is that power corrupts, and all involved are not just part of the problem, they are the problem.

Vega has managed to recruit some of Poland's finest actors. Andrzej Grabowski, in particular, as the Chairman -- who may or may not be a secret homosexual -- is impressive whenever he's on-screen. However, the extras -- particularly in the protest scenes -- appear to lack any direction, a criticism that must fall at Vega's door. The use of the aftermath of a rape as a means of showing how far the political and religious classes are willing to go in order to achieve their ambitions, while succeeding in making its point, also leaves an uneasy feeling.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the strong language in Polityka. Does it seem necessary, or excessive? What does it contribute to the movie? Did the fact that it was in subtitles make it more or less impactful?

  • Discuss the sexual violence in the movie. How do you think it was portrayed? Do you think it was necessary to tell the story?

  • How are drinking and drug use portrayed? Are there consequences? Why is that important?

  • What political and social issues are raised? What do you think the director is trying to say about them? Do you think it's a fair representation of real life?

Movie details

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